Brittany Bowe competes in the women's 1500 meter event during the ISU World Cup Speed Skating on Dec. 5, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo courtesy of US Speedskating.
The Olympic season got off to a fast start for some members of the U.S. long track speedskating team, and the stakes only heat up as the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Long Track Speedskating begin Wednesday, Jan 5. in Milwaukee.
With eight to 12 spots available on the team that will compete at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, competition will be fierce at the Pettit National Ice Center. Each day will feature men’s and women’s racing at a single distance, culminating with the mass start on Sunday.
Based on the world cup results to start the season, several U.S. skaters should have a strong chance at medaling at the Beijing Games. Here’s a snapshot of who and what to expect from the athletes at the trials.
The Ocala Contingent
Who knew a Central Florida town would be the birthplace of the three top U.S. speedskaters? More recognized for its horse breeding and equestrian training, Ocala is quickly making a name for its speedskating thanks to Brittany Bowe, Erin Jackson and Joey Mantia.
All three come from very successful careers as inline skaters and have trained under the guidance of Renee Hildebrand. Now they’re Team USA three biggest medal hopefuls going into Beijing.
At 33, Bowe is going for her third Olympics, and based on her form so far this season she could be in for her best Olympic performance yet.
She finished off the year with a gold medal in the 1,500-meter and a silver medal in the 1,000-meter at the world cup in Calgary, Alberta. The latter is Bowe’s specialty event — she’s the world-record holder, world cup leader and a three-time world champion in the distance. All that’s missing now is an Olympic gold medal. She also comes into Milwaukee ranked second in the 1,500.
Mantia, 35, also shows no signs of slowing down. Like Bowe, he is also on track for making his third Olympics, and he narrowly missed medaling in the 1,000-meter by placing fourth at the 2018 Olympics.
Coming into Milwaukee, Mantia ranks No. 1 in the 1,500-meter. The event to really watch for, though, is the mass start, where Mantia is a three-time world champion.
At 29, Jackson is still a relative newcomer on the U.S. teams. While she had 15 years of inline skating success, Jackson didn’t commit to skating on ice until 2017. Her speed quickly made up any surface awkwardness. Four months after committing to full-time skating on ice, Jackson qualified for the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, becoming the first Black American woman named to an Olympic long track team.
Her stunning trajectory has continued after 2018, when she finished 24th in PyeongChang. In her signature event, the 500-meter, she won her first world cup race this season — then added three more.